"We were patrolling the area near the security fence, when suddenly we heard a loud explosion," one of the soldiers wounded in the Hezbollah missile attack near the Arab village of Ghajar on the Lebanese border on Wednesday said as he recalled the initial moments of the incident.
"Some of the soldiers lost consciousness immediately and some evacuated themselves from the vehicles that were hit. There were several explosions, and at first we did not know whether they were caused by an explosive device or an anti-tank missile. There was chaos at first. I couldn’t hear anything for several minutes due to the force of the explosion."
Two IDF soldiers were killed and seven others wounded along Israel's border with Lebanon Wednesday around noon after a Hezbollah anti-tank missile hit an IDF convoy. The wounded were evacuated to the Ziv Medical Center in Safed and Haifa's Rambam Medical Center.
The injuries of the soldiers would have been far more severe if it weren't for their commanders, relatives of the wounded said on Wednesday.
Speaking to Ynet, Meir Shmuel, the father of soldier Shmuel Shmueli who was lightly hurt, said that his commander pushed him out of the military vehicle just seconds before the car was engulfed in flames.
The Shmueli family stood at their son's bedside and said: "They traveled north and while they were moving, the vehicle in front of them was hit. They jumped out of the car. In fact, his commander had realized they were going to get hit. He pushed him out of the car and a few seconds later the vehicle was hit. That's how they survived."
Talking about his son's condition, Shmueli said: "He and all the other soldiers who were in the second car are fine. They have some scratches and of course have to undergo medical tests. We're hoping that they release him soon."
The father said he was surprised to hear about his son's involvement in the incident. "I talked with him last night, he was in an entirely different area in the country. So naturally, I was not afraid when I head about the incident, I thought he was far away. But then my wife called me and told me what happened, and said that everything was fine."
He added: "Once she told me that his weapon and mobile phone were destroyed, I understood that he wasn't alright. We got in the car and came here."
"Escaped at last minute"
Relatives of Major Netanel, who was moderately hurt in the attack, arrived at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. Netanel's brother-in-law, Amir Gigi, said that Netanel told them they were returning from a patrol when the shots were fired
"He was wounded by shrapnel as a result of a direct hit on his vehicle. As I understood it, he managed get out of the car with the soldiers at the last minute."
Commenting on Netanel's medical condition, Gigi said: "He is fully conscious, another soldier is lying in the bed next to him, they both underwent treatments and are fine. Netanel suffered injuries to his limbs and upper torso as a result of shrapnel."
Gigi extended his condolences to the families of soldiers who lost their lives in the attack, and conveyed his wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded. He explained that members of his family live in the northern part of the country. "The north is in our blood. We were here in 2006 and in 1981, and we'll be here 1,000 years ahead of now. The north is our home and these incidents do not deter us."
Itay Blumenthal contributed to this report.